What day is it? ….Day 31

It has been a week since I returned home from Hawaii! It is time to pull it back from the relaxing, sun filled sky vacation mind set and get back into the flow of reality. I hope you all were not thinking of my absense as falling off the band wagon…again.

My island seista was not a result of months of planning and anxiety. It was merely the product, more like passion, of my partner. He has been itching to back to the islands where he has family. And month ago, I merely had to hit submit and our tickets were bought. This was a little out of character for me.  What was I thinking?! Jess doesn’t take vacations during the busiest part of her work year. To be honest, Jess doesn’t really like taking vacations. Period. Sad right?

I have been programed. I have been set to see taking time for myself as selfish and secondary to everything and every person in my life.

I share the same feelings as Aubrey from one of her recent posts. I am ready to move onto a new step in my career. I am ready to take it a next step with my partner. And ready to make BIG changes, but how could I put that all on pause for a 15 hrs journey to spend 10 days on a beach?

I had spent exactly one full week back at work. I knew this was all worth it when a colleague of mine shared his reaction to a phone call I had with a client. “That is how you come back and crush it.” He is my biggest cheerleader, but he made a great point. I did crush it. That was one of the best conversations I have had and the best part was: it was authentic.

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Take me back! 

This break has created a moment of pause. It allowed me to really take time amongst all of these aspirational changes to really think the all through. Sure, this pause allowed me to see volcanos and sea turtles. It more importantly made me realize why and how to make these changes. It has renergized my pursuit to be the most authentic version of myself. It has alowed me to finally be ok with taking time for myself. Because in the end, we all won. We all benefited from me watching the sunset while New England watched the snow.

Take a day off! Better yet, take 10!

XXOO Jess

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Note to Self: A weekly reflection of everything I should have done

More often than not, I find myself making a mental checklist. Do the dishes, Call your mother, Take a Nap, Pay Car Bill. I think it is safe to say we all do this, but for my impermeable brain these mental notes go untouched.

It is not surprising to report that the most productive, meditative place is in the shower (or driving). It is here that I daydream about the newest DIY or where I dwell on a terrible day. Yesterday, I began to take an inventory of all of these mental notes. Call mom-check, take nap-check. However, there are some things I didn’t get to because they lacked a deadline or a tangible reason to do them.  And then it hit me-in that meditative shower-I decided that the best way to hold myself accountable for the millions of mental emails gone unanswered was to write them here!

Note to Self:

  1. Call your people
    1. Being a working professional*, my friends and I have gotten into a rhythm. We would go days, weeks without talking and be able to pick it up where we left off. (I think I stole this from an inspirational meme) Our professional lives has pulled a lot of us across the country. Despite being so great at falling back into our friend flow, I am constantly asking myself things like What Sam is doing for her wedding? or Is Rachel lost in the mountains?
  2. Wake up earlier
    1. Why did I leave two minutes later than I should have? Why did I hit snooze a million times? Why did I think Facebook was worth the 45 minutes of my life instead of showering? This is a daily struggle. I am perpetually on time/late. As all of my career counselors say,If you are on time, you are late. 
  3. Show yourself some love
    1. However we choose to show this love-we deserve it. It was clear this week that I have been putting off some self care. Getting sick while traveling was a clear sign that I need to focus more on doing some intentional lovin’.

Stay tuned for more!

Jess (2)

*aspiring professional

May I Blog More Frequently

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Phew! After a week and a half of a nasty cold, I finally feel like I’m better & nearly back to normal. During that period, I tried to be extra kind to my body. That meant more sleep, less gym; heartier foods, less time cooking. While it felt really, REALLY good to embrace my – dare I say – lazier side, it’s made me be all the more appreciative of how much exercise and clean eating boost my confidence and overall make me feel great.

To help get me back in the saddle, I’ve enlisted the aid of setting weekly intentions. Before now, I’d only ever heard the term used in the smattering of yoga classes I’ve taken. According to the blog Abundant Mama, intentions keep us focused on our goals and help us “behave the way we wish to behave”.

You can make weekly intentions, daily intentions, weekend intentions, yearly ones, etc. What you must do is ask yourself what it is that you need out of your set period of time. Abundant Mama reminds readers that while our intentions are meant to be taken seriously, stuff happens and in the end, they’re just intentions.

In order to keep my intentions fresh in my mind, I framed a sheet of paper that reads, “Only Good Lies Before Me”. In the center, I can use dry-erase marker to write out my different intentions as they change. I think the end product is so-so, and eventually I’ll probably switch it out for something cuter, but in the meantime it’ll do!unnamed-1

Mine for this week are:

  • May I not be stressed
  • May I be balanced
  • May I have lots of creative energy
  • May I be mindful
  • May I take care of my body

Where do you see your week headed?

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Friday Favorites

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Happy Friday friends! On the off chance you’re facing some free time this weekend and don’t know what to do with yourself (besides nap!), I’ve compiled a list of my current favorite things.

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Reading: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling

This detective novel has everything you need for a good mystery: a lovable, rough-around-the-edges investigator/protagonist, a dead celebrity, and a slew of interesting characters from all walks of life who could have done the dirty deed. The story weaves between the protagonist’s life and the victim’s, as he tries to distance himself from his own messy past and figure out what went so wrong in hers. If you’re careful, you can see how the evidence all links up at the end (which I didn’t see coming at all). I had such a hard time putting this one down.

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Watching: The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson

This film was absolutely absurd, and in the most entertaining of ways. Wes Anderson brings his unique style to this film about a concierge and his lobby boy at a popular European ski resort. If you’ve never seen anything by Anderson before, just know it’s going to seem strange, especially in the manner of storytelling/backstory/and characters. I laughed aloud more times than I could count, though – this Oscar-nom is a must watch!

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Listening To: Serial, by Sara Koenig

This podcast (by the creators of This American Life from NPR) is a story told over the course of an entire season. And it’s a true story, by the way. This season (its first) is about the murder of a young woman in 1999, and investigates whether or not her ex-boyfriend, who remains in jail to this day, really killed her. I just downloaded the entire season on Sunday and I’m nearly halfway through the collection of 30-40 minute episodes. Never have I been so happy to be trapped in traffic!

What would you recommend I check out next??

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Holiday shopping- preparation or procrastination?

JSix days. Six days left to purchase, wrap, and share the wonders of gift giving with the well behaved folks in my life. I go big for the holidays- from gifts to parties, I want to plan it all!

My love for the holidays resurfaced after graduate school. The holidays were always overshadowed by procrastination and finals. For years, my holidays consisted of awkwardly living in a packed room and sleeping away the sleepless nights. This new found appreciation has led me to take a star role in holiday festivities.

However, I have carried my bad habits from college into my holiday planning process. Procrastination is my enemy this time of year. Aubrey’s post about holiday budgeting should have been the kick in the but to get my shopping done before December 1st. Like every year, I always think I have more time than I actually do.

This is where a very carefully planned weekend comes to play.

  • First, I tailor my list. It was extremely easy for me to make my list. Mainly because I LOVE giving gifts. This year it consists of my incredibly large family, some significant others, and some folks that are family minus the blood line. From this list, I have to plan my budget.
  • Once the list is lean and mean, I plan the online shopping portion of my weekend. I plan on maximizing my Amazon Prime membership with its free 2-day shipping to help with the time crunch. I should be able to get a handful of gifts here.
  • Next, I am looking to Pintrest.  I am hoping to find some fun, cheap DIY gifts. (To keep my budget in check) I would post examples, but I do not want to ruin the surprise! 🙂
  • Finally, I am anticipating battling the crowds. I usually b-line to my top stores before tackling the mall. (Target, Marshalls, Homegoods, etc). These offer some unique gifts or have more specific goods in stock.

The final, final step in this process is wrapping. Passed down from my beautiful mother, I plan to hone in on the tradition of wrapping everything Christmas Eve.

Happy last minute shopping!

Jess (2)

What’s That Burning Smell?

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As an RA in college, we talked a lot about burnout – completely breaking down because of the overwhelming amount of tasks we’re responsible for every day. We were full time students, active participants in various clubs, and RA’s, which is a 24-hour job. Not to mention homework, group projects, work, etc.

Someone once described the work-life balance to me as being represented by soup pots. Imagine, if you will, that you are a big ole’ pot of soup. Every time you help someone else, or give a little bit of yourself to your work, you dole out a ladle of soup. What you’re supposed to do is take a little time for yourself every now and again, in order to restock your pot. If you don’t, though, what little soup left in your pot will start to burn, and eventually you’ll just be scraping at the bottom.

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Homemade ornaments I’ve been putting together, design courtesy of It’s A Beautiful Mess

More often than not, I find myself scraping the burned remnants of soup off the bottom of my pot. This past weekend was a lovely change from that – my company had their annual holiday party, and I spent a whole day exploring Chinatown, eating sweets, and watching Broad City with my friend.

I think the key ingredient, thought, to this refreshing weekend was really that I re-routed my work emails to a different inbox on my phone. Instead of coming to my main inbox, they went into a little folder that I promised myself I wouldn’t check until Monday. It can be so difficult to “switch off”. Our email and texts are constantly with us in our pockets, and so it gets difficult to say no when a boss sends you a little something over the weekend.

I am the type of person who will give 110% all the time (hence my burned and charred soup pot), weekends and early mornings included. In all, I probably work 55+ hours a week, and that’s just at my first job! I understand that as a young professional, this is the point in my life when it will be most beneficial to be working these long hours, but a line has to be drawn somewhere. I couldn’t understand why I was so tense on the weekends, until I realized that every time I checked my phone, there was a new email that reminded me about work issues.

The United States is sadly not a culture of “switching off”. Countries like Denmark and Norway rank more highly in terms of work-life balance, because they discourage unpaid overtime and irregular work schedules and encourage time spent on “leisure and personal care”.

Well, I for one like the sound of that. This week, I’m going to focus on keeping work at work, and spend a little more of my free time prepping for my flight home for Xmas on Friday!!!

 

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Hello sunshine

J

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Winter. A time where cold dwellers, like myself, dream of warm sands, sun, and longer days. For years, my other half has been trying to steal me away to Hawaii to escape the Polar Vortex or any other storm that keeps us bundled up. Finally we have a reason to escape aside from the cold- a wedding! Destination weddings are by far the smartest way to have a wedding. I mean, why else would someone plan a weekend trip to Puerto Rico mid holiday season and with the looming threat of a surprise Nor’easter?

Traveling is a very welcomed and fortunately a frequent experience for me. Equal to the feeling of coming home, the anticipation of planning and leaving for a trip can match the memories made during it. Aubrey and I are very similar in our love of travel. From backpacking to the monotonous work trips around the US, I love the freedom that comes with going somewhere new. Zero expectations and complete autonomy of my schedule are just a few things that make traveling so great!

However, there is one part of traveling I hate the most: packing. I often wish I was the type of person that could pick up and go with only my dreams and a toothbrush.  Sadly it takes a village to keep this girl satisfied on a trip. I am always trying to plan for the unknown which does not help in the packing process.  My strategy is to think like a New England-er. I pack for all weather, all terrain, and all moods. Now, how do I fit this into a carry on?

Safe Travels!

Jess (2)

Give Peace A Chance

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It’s a good time to promote peace, and I’m not just referring to current events in the US (though we should be talking about peace there too). No, I’m talking about inner peace. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it can feel like everyone and their mother is outdoing you at – well, you name it. I just read a really great article by a friend that expresses why it can be more hurtful than helpful to be surrounded by social media; it’s a convenient place for everyone you’re “friends” with to blast out their constant success (#blessed anyone?). After a while, that can get pretty tiring.

I used to congratulate myself on attempts to not compare myself to others. I was an apple, they were oranges. We had separate paths in life, different opportunities, were different people. Comparing would only be cruel and uneven. Of course I wasn’t as good a runner as so-and-so, they’d been running since middle school and loved it while I hate running. The list goes on and on.

Nonetheless, I’ve always been my biggest critic. When I didn’t get the grade I wanted, or fell short of getting the job I’d interviewed for, I was the first person to say you blew it, why didn’t you try harder?

As I’ve gotten older, my inner “coach” has only gotten more relentless. I would spend entire days stressed out because I hadn’t been able to get up in time in the morning, the regret hanging over me like a cloud. I had so many standards I wasn’t meeting up to, and that little inner voice was vicious. You’re lazy! Why can’t you go to bed on time? Why did you waste all of that time playing around on the Internet when you should have been doing work??

This all came to a head recently at the end of November, when I wrapped up NaNoWriMo (you can read more about that here). As a recap, you’re supposed to end up with 50,000 words by midnight on November 30. I had done really well, I have to say, at keeping my word count afloat. In fact, up until the last week, I was on track to reaching 50,000. The last week, though, was the most challenging. I was working later hours to prep for the upcoming Thanksgiving break, I myself was prepping for my trip up north, and then Thanksgiving itself came in all of its turkey-sodden glory. While I was still writing, I couldn’t pound out that 1,668 minimum, and I quickly fell behind.

November 30th, I remember sitting at my kitchen table staring at my computer. My heart was racing, my stomach was turning, and all I could think about was how much I sucked, I could never finish anything! Honestly, I was feeling like I used to during the school year, when a looming deadline for a paper came up and I felt unprepared.-keep-calm-and-let-it-go

Instead of continuing to panic, though, I took a note from Disney’s Frozen and just…let it go. I let it all go. I shrugged my shoulders, returned to washing the dishes and packing my lunch, and turned my laptop off. I had done my very best for this project, and that’s what mattered. The world was not going to end because I was 12,000 words short. I was not a bad person for not finishing. Life would go on. I felt so much better!

Since then (yes, it’s only been four days, but you won’t believe how often I get stressed) I’ve tried to extend this attitude to every time I’ve felt overwhelmed. OK, so I didn’t go to the gym today. I’ll just go tomorrow. Needed the sleep anyways! The weight off my shoulders has been enormous. And that mean self-talk I indulged in? I’ve tried to put some advice from my mom to use: speak to yourself like you would speak to a friend. And I would never tell a friend they were a lazy sack of potatoes for not running that extra mile at 5AM.

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Keeping it Current

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It may have taken longer than my mother had hoped for, but at long last I’m an NPR convert. An addict, really. When I first arrived in Los Angeles, my favorite way to spend time stuck in traffic was listening to A. Martinez and Alex Cohen on their show Take Two. It’s an engaging news program during which the hosts conduct a slew of interviews, regarding everything from new avant garde music to current events.

For someone without cable television, listening to NPR was a great way for me to stay connected and informed. Increasingly though, I realized that whenever I’d bring up world events in conversation (bourgeois, I know), people would give me blank stares. I seemed to be one of the first people at work or among friends that knew about things like the annexation of Crimea over the summer. On the flip side, I was always the last person to know about breaking entertainment news, or new music.iheartnpr_web_250x250_stacked

A week or so ago, I started following the Writer’s Guild Foundation on Facebook, and through that found a Q&A session with Simon Kinberg, the producer of such movies as X-Men: Days of Future Past. I immediately booked a seat. It was the first such event I’d been to outside of a school setting, and it was fantastic. I learned so much about his writing process, what he’ll be up to next, etc. I loved being back and immersed in the writing world.

This event reminded me that it’s important to stay connected and informed, but not just about world politics and the like. It serves anyone well to keep on track of current events in whatever they’re passionate about. NPR not for you? There are tons of way to keep up with your favorite organizations, news sites, and breaking stories whether they cover fashion, movies, new novels, or the latest in fly fishing. The more you know, the more informed your perspective on the world will be. Learning about how others are living, even someone right down the street, teaches us about how we can help our communities, no matter what form they may take.

It’s important to remember, though, that not all news is unbiased. Always keep an open mind to both sides of every story and be wary about anything that might have an ulterior motive behind its publishing.

To get started, I challenge you to check out the Huffington Post and the New York Times. Looking for something more entertainment based? Hollywood Deadline and even Buzzfeed are chock full of information. For all sorts of news, stop by The Daily Beast – they have a cheat sheet for all you busybodies. Have even less time in your day? Subscribe to The Daily Skimm; a simplified list of all the top news stories for the day is sent straight to your inbox every morning. Don’t forget to follow your favorite organizations/people on Twitter and Facebook! And if all else fails, NPR will always have your back.

 

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Take it to the cleaners

UntitledHappy weekend, folks! As each day passed this week, my laundry pile grew. I am sure I am not alone in the world of weekend chore charts. Often times my laundry is at the top of that list. I look for efficiency while cleaning; I want to do as much as I can in as little time. How do I accomplish such tasks? For laundry, I still take the college approach-throw the washer on the largest load possible with cold water.

My clothes are slowly dying on the inside because of this. I have been lucky so far in the upkeep of my things. I can proudly report only 2 casualties due to an overheated iron and a few workout clothes fell victim to a rabid dryer on the fritz.

The time is coming where I will need to step up my laundry game. As I mentioned in my last post, I am yearning for a new wardrobe; one that is mature and eclectic. I am looking for something to invest in, something that will outlast the slew of Forever 21 that is currently on my floor. I want to invest in quality versatile pieces. However, I am finding out that it is an investment in the upkeep, as well.

Dry cleaning had been such a mystery to me. As a kid, I would see my mom drop a load of “stuff” with a lovely couple. Magically, days later the ball of “stuff” was returned pressed and hanging. I never understood why she paid for someone to do her laundry when she would do ours all the time for free.

It was only until I dropped off my first load of dry-clean onlys that I fully saw the benefits.

  1. My clothes were clean! Yes, this sounds very redundant but, these clothes looked and felt clean. They magically turned the clocks back to the first time I saw these pieces. The colors were bright and the fabric was smooth!
  2. They are crisp! Dry cleaners are equipped with magical irons that can make any fabric crisp and clean. My collars and blazers are always hard and crisp, ready to go.
  3. They are fixed. I am the girl that always has the loose button or the hem that dropped. Dry cleaners are wizards when it comes to the care of clothes. Not only do they clean them, they fix them. So for all of those minor problems that we are too  lazy or can’t fix, they are there to fix them.
  4. Best of all-I didn’t have to do a thing! I had a solid 2 hrs back of my life. Hours I could spending doing other things…other chores.

I also learned that dry cleaners have many more tricks up their sleeves. They can also clean linens, upholstery, and they can also store excess out-of-season clothes. Who knew?!

Jess (2)